Letter to the editor: Lora Petso can’t ‘connect the dots’

To the Editor:

Lora Petso was elected once, but did not win ever again — and she tried three times! Perhaps the major reason is because Ms. Petso’s council votes often result in the suppression of economic development.

One very good example is the Point Edwards condominium development. I just completed an analysis of Snohomish County’s tax records for each of the 261 condo units at the project. The value of Point Edwards for 2011 tax purposes is more than $133 million. The amount of 2011 property taxes assessed is more than $1.3 million — about $280,000 of that is revenue for the City of Edmonds. And, of course, a very significant amount of sales tax was received during the construction phase.

In 2002 the Planning Board recommended to City Council the rezone of the existing property at the request of Unocal, the property owner. One of the major elements of the proposed rezone was a 5-foot increase in the allowable height. Unocal said that amount of extra height was essential in order to have a redevelopment that would cover the exceedingly high costs to clean up the site and to provide an increased amount of open space. Without the height increase they couldn’t proceed with their project.

When the rezone was dealt with by city council on July 2, 2002, six of seven members recognized that the rezone was in the best interests of our city. After all, as one member pointed out, the extra height would still cause the tallest structure to be eight feet lower than the existing oil tanks. Nevertheless, Ms. Petso voted against the rezone. The only other remaining council member is Michael Plunkett. Mr. Plunkett voted in support of the rezone.

What is astonishing is Ms. Petso’s chronic failure to “connect the dots” when it comes to her strong support for parks and her persistent opposition to condominiums and to small increases in height. Parks are largely funded by the funding from the Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) — a considerable amount of REET comes from the initial sales and the resale of condominiums. When REET is diminished, park funding will have to come from even higher property taxes.

I strongly support the election of Darlene Stern — Ms. Stern has the ability to “connect the dots”.

Ron Wambolt
Edmonds

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9 Comments

  1. The statement “Ms. Stern has the ability to connect the dots” is meaningless. When I think of the ideal person to represent me on the city council, I do not think “hmm, I really want someone who can connect the dots.” I think about the actual issues. So far, of all the comments and letters I have read in support of Ms. Stern, I have seen nothing about her actual stance on any issues at all. How can you vote for a politician who never expresses their political views?

  2. By attending the upcoming candidates’ forums, citizens can learn the candidates’ positions on the various issues.

  3. Yeah! What Ian said!

  4. Mr Wambolt said the is a “very good example” of how “Ms. Petso’s council votes often result in the suppression of economic development.”

    In this example, dug up from almost a decade ago, her lone symbolic vote did not result in the suppression of anything. The condos were built to the height the developer wanted. That’s the worst vote you could dig up?

    If that’s the worst Ms. Petso has done, I’d say that’s a darn good record. Let’s compare that to Ms. Stern’s voting record. I guess we can’t, because there isn’t one. Let’s compare this to Ms. Stern’s stand on important issues. I guess we can’t, because she’s never taking a courageous stand on any important issue.

    I think Ms. Stern needs to do some non-elected work in government so we can learn something about her. Let’s see if she can earn our support. I don’t think she’s earned it yet.

  5. The first paragraph should read:

    Mr. Wambolt said this is a “very good example” of how “Ms. Petso’s council votes often result in the suppression of economic development.”

  6. Once again, let’s look at the record.

    In a recent election the incumbent Councilman. Ron Wambolt came in 3rd place in the primary against Adrienne and Lora.

    Now since that election, what has changed that would indicate that Ron’s “dots” should now align themselves in a manner in a way preferred by Ron?

    Was Ron’s public service less than that of Ms. Stern? Has Ms. Stern proven herself to be a stronger candidate than Ron had been as four years as a Councilman by her participation in city issues? Ron was certainly controversial, yet he was always THERE and a contributor to the action as was LORA.. Ms. Stern was not.

    Ron, your dot dog doesn’t hunt!

  7. Mr. Wambolt (#3), you make the same reference to the candidate forums each time a contributor points out that some candidates you vocally and generously support have never taken any public positions on issues outside of their campaigns. I agree with you that the candidate forums are useful and citizens should pay attention to what the candidates have to say. But many recognize that the value of their mere words in the course of a campaign is substantiated when positions taken outside of the election process are consistent. I hearken back to one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits, the mock debate between G.H. Bush vs. M. Dukakis. In which commentary was provided by the late, great David Brinkley (played by the late, great Phil Hartman). “Well, what we saw were two men doing everything they could to avoid saying what they would do if elected. Because they know if they did, we wouldn’t elect them.” The fact is that while both Mr. Wilcox and Ms. Stern may have admirable qualities, neither one of them has taken a position on any issue outside of their campaign… neither has given testimony before council or written a letter to the editor on any decision facing council… neither participated on any volunteer citizen committee, commission, or board supporting governmental decision-making processes. The same cannot be said for their opponents (Diane Buckshnis and Lora Petso) or Joan Bloom. The weight of their perspectives is supported by selfless positions they took as involved and committed citizens, prior to seeking elected public service. Without this, we have only words in the course of campaigning, along with the sources of financial and vocal support to decide whom they are aligned with and what they might do if elected.

  8. Rich:

    I was illustrating how Ms. Petso votes. You never know when her vote will make a difference. My assessment of the current city council is that if the vote on Point Edwards was made today it very likely would fail, as I believe there are three members who would join with Ms. Petso and the project would be dead.

  9. Ron, you don’t know how Ms. Petso would vote on this issue if it were a close vote today. It is entirely possible she voted no because she knew it would pass despite her vote and she wanted to let other developers know that getting a rezone will not always be easy.

    Of course that’s all conjecture, just like your assumptions about Ms. Petso and the unnamed three members you mentioned.

    Of course we don’t know how Ms. Stern would vote on this issue or any other issue. (Actually she did say she’d vote against cat leashes, implying that Ms. Petso had been on the Council when that vote was taken – she wasn’t.) Is there any other candidate who has taken no stand on building heights?

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